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Janalee SilveyJul 8, 2016 5:14:03 PM3 min read

A Beautiful Mind: 8 Psychological Principles of Content Design

bigstock-Losing-Brain-Function-110126315-300x300Marketing is a unique effort, like a combination of sales and psychology. You have a widget, and you know its cost, price, and purpose. You take your widget and display it to customers in just such a way that they feel it's clearly for them. You have to consider every aspect of your presentation for it to work best - font, colors, images, wording, tone, channel, format, and other tiny nuances. No piece works on its own; They all mesh to become a greater whole - representative of your brand. It's about creating a feeling, not just a product. Here is a list of 8 Psychological Principles, from our partners at Hubspot, to help you 'understand what goes into the creation of intuitive, intentional design experiences.'

1) Mental Models

Computer scientists and UX designers think and talk a lot about mental models, because the process of designing something new -- like a website layout or a new app -- requires trying to uncover and act on what users might find to be intuitive.

Mental modeling is the process of mapping out what a person understands about the real world through experience and replicating those models in the design of something in the virtual space. This is all about trying to uncover your audience’s intuitive process.

Think of your computer files and folders. They’re based on the same old-school method of organizing hard files so it’s easy for the user to understand -- despite the visual looking rather different.

For designers, understanding what mental modeling is and why it’s important comes down to simply designing with your users’ experience in mind.

Throughout your design process, do an “intuitive check.” Are your visuals moving right to left, top to bottom? Is your message clear and easy to understand, or is it unintentionally hidden?

A gut check with a friend or coworker is a great way to keep an eye on whether your mental modeling is working well in your designs.

2) The Von Restorff Effect

The Von Restorff effect is, quite simply, the idea that the oddball out is the one that gets remembered.

When designing, sometimes you want your audience’s eye to be drawn to one spot -- even if there are other design elements around it. This might mean using a different color, font, size, etc.

3) Gestalt Principles

Gestalt psychology explores how elements are perceived in relation to each other visually. The gestalt principles, or gestalt laws, focus specifically on how design elements are grouped together.

Proximity: The idea that when objects are placed in close proximity to one another, those objects are seen as a group rather than seen individually. Although there are lots of shapes within the “U,” in the Unilever logo, the eye still recognizes those objects as a group making up the "U" figure.

Similarity: Objects that look similar will be perceived as one object or as a part of the same group. In the NBC logo, the similar cones are perceived as a group because they look similar to one another.

Closure: Closure occurs when a shape is still perceived as a whole even when the object is not fully closed in reality. In the Girl Scout logo, the shapes and whitespace are used to create a perceived series of silhouettes even though only some of the shapes are actually enclosed.

Continuity: Occurs as the eye moves naturally from one object to the other. This often happens through the creation of curved lines allowing the eye to flow with the line. In the Olympic logo, the eye can see that the objects are continuous as they link with each other, creating a grouped visual.

Figure & ground: When the eye notices an object as an object, it separates the object (figure) from the surrounding area (the ground). In this logo-tribute to Steve Jobs, the viewer either sees the white space as the figure or the ground, depending on whether the eye looks at the apple or the silhouette of Steve Jobs.

Check out the accompanying visuals and read the rest of the article here.

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